Sunday, January 26, 2014
Redskins coaching scorecard
By John Keim
Now that the Redskins have hired a running backs coach, the primary spots on Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden's staff have been filled. Gruden's staff will include several holdovers, including Sean McVay (promoted from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator), Chris Foerster (offensive line), Jacob Burney (defensive line), Raheem Morris (secondary) and Jim Haslett (defensive coordinator). Here's an updated list:
Head coach: Jay Gruden
Offensive coordinator: Sean McVay
McVay is highly respected by his players and comes across as older than his 27 years. He won't call plays, so he'll be able to ease into this position. Still, it's a lot of responsibility and there will be a transition and learning period. There always is.
McVay told ESPN that he would be coaching the quarterbacks. Gruden, who played quarterback in college and professionally, will be involved here as well. The Redskins could always opt for an assistant quarterbacks coach to provide a little more help if desired. McVay's coordinating duties aren't as demanding as they would be in some other situations because of Gruden's involvement and the fact that the head coach will call the plays. It gives McVay more time to coach a position.
Running backs: Randy Jordan
Don't know a lot about him other than he played in the NFL for nine seasons and spent five years in the Raiders organization when Bruce Allen worked in Oakland. But Jordan has been a college coach since 2004.
Wide receivers: Ike Hilliard
He coached the receivers for one season and the players seemed to like him, but the Redskins let him go after the 2012 season. The Bills let him go in December after his only season in Buffalo.
Tight ends: Wes Phillips
He was considered a solid, hard-working coach in Dallas. It was telling that Jason Garrett kept Phillips around even after his dad, Wade, was fired as head coach. McVay coached this position the past three years.
Offensive line: Chris Foerster
He has experience in different blocking schemes, though he works best in the zone blocking system. Players have spoken highly of him over the years. His lines the past couple of years have not been the most talented individually, but still had more success than anticipated. We don't know how much the young linemen have developed or if any will be future starters (but keep in mind that Joe Bugel did not develop any young players in his second stint in Washington either. Just some perspective.).
Defensive coordinator: Jim Haslett
When Mike Shanahan was fired, even Haslett anticipated his fate would be similar. But the front office viewed him far differently than fans did. The defense, in terms of yards allowed per game, improved (they ranked ninth in yards per game from Weeks 4-17. However, the points per game did not get a lot better. It wasn't great even when accounting for points off turnovers and returns for touchdowns). Shanahan had a big hand in the defense, from hiring the staff to the players to game plans and play calls. It was his right, of course, but this is why the front office absolved Haslett of more blame. And the front office felt keeping Haslett, a former head coach, would be beneficial to a first-time head coach, one with whom he has a relationship. Gruden agrees with this as well. But it's now time for this defense to finally produce at a greater and more consistent level.
Defensive line: Jacob Burney
He's helped Barry Cofield become a solid nose tackle and the front has been solid against the run; I like how Chris Baker has developed, but Jarvis Jenkins has not done enough in the pass game. Overall, the pass rush needs to improve.
Inside linebackers: Kirk Olivadotti
Had a great reputation when he was here the first time around. This is an excellent hire, but he will be limited to just working with the inside linebackers. He worked with Perry Riley as a rookie and will have another starter to train inside with the loss of London Fletcher.
Outside linebackers: Brian Baker
Don't know a whole lot about him other than he's a veteran coach who has worked with Haslett in the past. He's coached linebackers in three of his 17 NFL seasons, serving as Cleveland's outside linebackers coach last season, but he played linebacker at the University of Maryland. Cleveland's linebackers did not produce as hoped. Dallas did not retain him after the 2012 season when it changed coordinators. His last three seasons have been spent in a 3-4 scheme.
Secondary: Raheem Morris
Energetic and enthusiastic. I'm sure he felt he'd be someone's coordinator by now, but he'll instead enter his third season as Washington's secondary coach. It's not as if the secondary play the past two years would have helped him land a coordinator's job. That's not all on him, however, as there's little doubt they have to upgrade the talent base. And what matters is this: general manager Bruce Allen wanted to keep him around. Fletcher gave him a strong endorsement on Twitter after Gruden was hired.
Special teams: Ben Kotwica
Have heard good things from people who used to work with him. In New York he had to replace a legendary coach in Mike Westhoff. That won't be the case in Washington so those players who remain from last year will be more eager to buy what he's selling.